FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – The Fort Wayne-Allen County Health Department has temporarily closed the 3 Rivers Natural Grocery , also known as the 3 Rivers Co-Op.
After an anonymous tip from an employee, inspectors said they spotted cockroaches and mouse droppings in the grocery store known for having organic and healthy foods.
When asked why the grocery store is closed, leaders at 3 Rivers Natural Grocery, located on Spring Street and Sherman Blvd., said it’s for remodeling and to fix a storage area. While that is true, 15 Finds Out discovered the pest problem they weren’t as quick to discuss.
Janelle Young is the general manager of the grocery store. When she was initially asked about a cockroach or pest problem, she said it was no more of an issue than any other business around the rivers.
“I wouldn’t say there’s a problem,” Young said. “I’d say it’s something you have to constantly maintain so that there’s not a problem.”
The Health Department would disagree. After filing a request for public information, 15 Finds Out obtained pictures of cockroaches, both dead and alive, inside the store. Some had been underneath the salad bar. The Health Department found them on May 23. It also found parts of a roach in a tea drawer and mouse droppings under deli shelves.
15 Finds Out confronted Young about the pest problem and if she was trying to cover it up.
“The Board of Health gave me a list of projects that we had to complete before we could open and [the remodeling] was the longest term one that was going to keep us closed for five or six days to get that construction done,” Young said. “The pest management part was actually pretty easy to get our pest guys in here and take care of that. The first day we did that.”
Young continued, “I wasn’t trying to cover anything up. I’m trying to focus on the timeline of how [long] we’re going to be closed.”
An inspection at the beginning of May had found a dead mouse and other mouse droppings. Young said after the failed inspection May 23, the store fired its former pest control company because it wasn’t aggressive enough.
During its inspection, the Health Department had called the 3 Rivers Natural Grocery pest problem an infestation.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Young said it was cleaned up. When asked if it was fixed she said, “I certainly hope so. Arab [pest control] has been coming in and checking everything from that whole side of the building where the kitchen is on the Sherman Street side, which tends to be the problem side for all the businesses in the area.”
The store was using non-toxic substances to kill the pests. Young was unsure about the more aggressive substances used.
3 Rivers Natural Grocery did not get rid of its groceries as it was getting rid of its pests. Young said the treatment area was closed off so the pest control substances wouldn’t drift into the store.
Leaders had hoped to finish construction and open the grocery store Wednesday afternoon. Later that evening, a sign on the door said it now hopes be open May 31.